We lived in San Diego when I was in junior high. One of my best friends was Carolyn. She was a tall, willowy California blond. I loved her, but she was a little spoiled and could be kinda shallow.
One afternoon we were wandering around Sea World, where we had season tickets.Sitting on a bench was a little boy, about eight-years-old. It looked like he’d gotten separated from his family, and he was having a meltdown. But I’d never seen a meltdown like this; he had his arms wrapped around himself, and was rocking back and forth, and making a sound that sounded like something halfway between a moan and a wail.
I had no idea what was wrong with him, and absolutely no idea what to do.Then I noticed Carolyn. She kneeled in front of the distraught child, and without touching him, she began speaking to him, slowly and calmly. She looked over her shoulder at me.
“Grab an employee, tell them we found an autistic boy alone.”
Practically tripping on my jaw, which had fallen to the ground, I did as my surprising friend bid me.
By the time the kid’s frantic mother ran up, Carolyn was gently teasing a smile out of the boy, whose anxiety had almost dissipated. I had oh, so many questions.Carolyn informed me that autism is a disorder where information isn’t collected, processed, and responded to in the same way as most people. Change and the unexpected can cause them to shut down. My friend was able to stop the emotional escalation, and even begin calming him.
She learned this as a volunteer working with autistic children. I was proud of my friend, and from that day on, looked at her with respect and a touch of admiration.
Carolyn had what I’d call a secret superpower; an impressive unusual skill that you’d never expect. And if you look enough, it’s a safe bet you’ll that find most people have at least one. Maybe not as shocking and altruistic as Carolyn’s, but everybody’s got something.Last Saturday I learned something shocking about my own child. Although not a make-up wearer, The Kid can draw cat eyeliner on others perfectly, and in the blink of a gorgeous, dramatic eye. It’s a skill picked up in theater classes.
My father can braid hair. It either comes from having three sisters, or spending time in the Coast Guard, but Dad can do it.
My mother can build you a radio. When she was young she worked in a factory where she learned to solder transistors onto one of those electronic boards and before you know it, you’re grooving out to Kasey Kasem’s top 40s.Petey hasn’t done it in years, and even then not often, and he’d probably deny it, but the man is a really good dancer. And as a bonus, he does a spot-on impression of Eddie Murphy’s version of Gumby, “I’m Gumby, damn it!”.
And, I have a weird talent. I experience numbers and sounds in a kind of rhythm. Once I hear a phone number, it’s memorized, and long after it happens, I know the number of times somebody knocked on the door. I can almost hear it in my head. Unfortunately, I’ve not yet figured out a way to profit from this bizarre, savant-like ability.
So Gentle Reader, drop me a line and share with me the crazy, hidden, superpowers that you and/or your loved ones may have. If I get enough, I’ll share them with the class in a future column.Thanks for your time.